Life Story / Obituary
With an unwavering commitment to living an authentic and unapologetic life, Michael Ehrmann embraced each day as a gift. From his earliest days, Mike lived life with a sense of adventure and relishing in resisting conforming to others' ideals. Despite a tough exterior, those who knew him best will attest to Mike's big heart and the many ways he offered his support to those he loved. Though our days with Mike were far too few, his indelible mark will forever be remembered by those who were lucky to know him.
1971 was a year of many exciting new possibilities; National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasted for the first time, Walt Disney World Resort opened in Florida, and the 26th amendment lowered the voting age to 18. Amtrak, Federal Express, and Greenpeace came into being in 1971, and with the invention of the Microprocessor, the year marked the start of the digital age we now know. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the Ehrmann family as they welcomed their youngest child Michael to their family on December 28.
Growing up in West Michigan during the 70s and 80s, Mike's early years were influenced not only by his parents, who both worked for Kalamazoo Public Schools but also by the times' massive cultural changes. As the US ended its involvement in Vietnam and both the women's rights and civil rights movements reached many of their goals, the media dramatically reflected the era of change. Television introduced the talk show where formerly taboo subjects like politics, drugs, and sex were freely discussed and analyzed. Radio stations quit playing folk songs, and the airwaves rang out with the new sounds of hard rock, heavy metal, and punk music. On the big screen, Rambo rallied against established rules and proved that good will always win over evil.
The youngest of the Ehrmann's three boys, while Mike scrapped to keep up with his brothers, Kevin and Steve, he also received much of the attention, leaving his brothers "in the dust." While he often fought with his brothers, he was also the first to defend them if someone foolishly chose to mess with them. Stever and Ducky were his first best buddies, and Mike continued to enjoy their friendship his entire life.
Mike's parents kept him busy. He played football for many years, starting with Rocket and playing throughout his high school years. He also enjoyed bowling in various local leagues. Mike also expressed much of his energy during adventures with his brothers. Once, he and Steve decided to go out for a bike ride at 2:30 AM. Their middle of the night adventure came to an abrupt stop when Mike, traveling at a fast speed, hit a curb, and broke his arm. Steve ran home, got the car, and brought him home. In fear of their dad's reaction to their sneaking out, they came up with the story that Mike fell down the stairs. Another legendary brother-adventure included waking up extra early to open their enormous pile of Christmas presents. The next Christmas wasn't as adventurous as each brother woke up to one gift, a blue plastic sled under the tree.
Following high school, Mike enlisted in the Army. When he returned home from his service buff and fit, his family barely recognized him! In 1994, Mike's love of motorcycling was born. From the moment he hit the saddle he knew that he'd ride as often as possible. While he loved riding solo, he also enjoyed riding with a group. He joined the Wild Bunch and made many friends and biking buddies. Mike was never happier than when he was on his Harley and rode 365 days a year regardless of the weather. It didn't matter if the skies were filled with sun, rain, winds, or if there were blizzard conditions; Mike suited up and hit the road with signature boldness and determination.
A hard worker, Mike loved working with his brother Kevin as a landscaper. He earned the title of "Tear Out Man" for K&K Landscaping as he could do demolition work in half the time of anyone else. He was also a brick saw natural; with little effort, he could cut a perfect circle in brick. Though a bit messy, he had three of everything, and none of them worked. He would do anything for anyone, in his own time, but he would get it done. All you had to do was ask. Mike was Mike; he never made excuses for who he was. Once while working for his brother, he returned from gassing up the work truck only to report that it was running poorly. Two weeks later, Kevin discovered that Mike had filled the diesel truck with regular gasoline. After a $12,000 repair, the next time they met, Kevin tackled Mike to the ground. The story became a legend, and Mike was hassled about it for years.
Mike enjoyed the simple things in life, family, friends, the outdoors, and his canine companion, Buddy. He always wanted to be a part of everything going on in the family. His son Phillip was born in 1995, and his son Domanick in 1998. He lived with his brother and sister-in-law and kept busy helping around the house. Though his love of food sometimes resulted in stinking up the house while cooking liver, he loved doing things for his family. An unofficial tattoo artist for his friends, he'd often head out to his next tattoo job declaring, "I am going to murder someone today." Mike also enjoyed spending time outside on their property, exploring nature, growing and harvesting marijuana, and playing bottle cap fetch with his constant sidekick, Buddy. He even took Buddy with him on the bike. Even diabetes didn't stop Mike from satisfying his sweet tooth with a bit of candy and a 2-liter of Sunkist.
Mike enjoyed playing pool and had become quite the player. He waited patiently for weeks for the new pool table at his brother Kevin's house to be assembled. On his last day of life, Mike set up the new table for a game of 8 ball in anticipation of playing the first game once Kevin arrived home from work. Mike sat outside eagerly waiting to kick Kevin's ass in a game of pool. He never got the opportunity to do that.
Without a doubt, the world feels most uncertain in the face of Mike's sudden absence. May it afford deep comfort to share our memories of Mike's robust spirit and hardy laughter as we begin to do the hard work of living without the companionship we've long enjoyed. May we also remember that the best way we can honor the gift of Mike's life is to proudly carry his legacy forward, ride safe, run the table, get outside, and enjoy each moment. In these ways, Mike's spirit will continue to live on in each of our hearts and lives.